Make a wise career choice

CHOOSING A CAREER

Make a wise career choice

TEAM EFFORT A free and open discussion of career choices between parents and children  reduces stress and frustrationNisha wants to be an artist. Her father thinks that art is only good as a hobby, and that his intelligent daughter should make him proud by becoming a software engineer.  Nisha’s mother has ideas of her own – no one in the family has ever become a doctor, so her darling daughter should become one. Then she can show off to the proud lady down the road who preens all over the place because her son is studying medicine!

This scenario is not unusual.  Many parents still live in the past and would like to fulfill their dreams through their child. Many young people are mesmerised by the thrilling and challenging new careers that promise big money, adventure and travel.  When it is time to take a critical decision about the child’s career, there is a Mahabharatha in many houses, there is a lot of crying and sulking in others, and in some houses there is a cold war.  This is unfortunate, because the aim of the child and parents is the same – to select an appropriate career that can spell success, satisfaction and good returns.

Career selection is becoming more and more complex in today’s age of wide variety and increased competition.  With globalisation and new technologies sprouting newer choices every day, there is more confusion than excitement.  In this scenario it is not uncommon that a budding student may develop an attraction towards a particular ‘sunrise’ career while his parents prefer to stick to the beaten path and play safe.  Let us first analyse what each need to do to ensure that the student is on the right track in career selection:

Parents

*Are you aware of the new careers that are sprouting up offering good prospects? Do you take the trouble to periodically update yourself?

*Do you know that some of the traditional careers that were very poorly paid in the past, have now become lucrative and very rewarding financially?

*Have you taken the trouble to speak to people in different careers and find out how each field is doing and the changes that are taking place?

*Are you enforcing your unfulfilled ambitions on your child, making him take up a prestigious career that you could not achieve? Or, are you hoping your child will follow in your footsteps and take up your career, so that he can succeed you?

*Are you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your child, and are you in a position to match them to the requirements to his prospective career?

*If you can truthfully introspect and answer these questions to yourself, then you know that you are in a position to guide your child suitably.

Students

*Are you getting fascinated by a career only because of its ‘glamour value’?  For example, if you love driving cars, are you thinking of becoming an automobile engineer or designer?  In reality the automobile engineer spends his time in the factory, not driving around in fancy cars.

*Are you aware of the wide choices available to you, and have you taken the trouble to explore and find out many of them, or do you think that the only lucrative fields are engineering, medicine, chartered accountancy, etc.?  That will frustrate you, particularly if you are not good at competitive exams required to qualify in these fields.

*Can you match your academic capabilities to the requirements of the course you want to take up, and are you aware of the costs involved and whether your parents can afford it?  Try to be realistic.

*Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses, and can you match them to the requirements of the career you are thinking of taking up? It is not enough to be interested in something, you also have to be good at it in order to succeed.

*Do you get influenced by careers that have ‘scope’, and are going into a particular field only because everyone else is doing so, and there are many jobs being offered currently in that industry?  Ten years from now there may be a recession in that industry, and you can be in trouble.

Once parent and child have done the above introspection, they are far better prepared to discuss and even argue out their own contention.  It is important that each student chooses a career for which he has not only interest but also aptitude.  Aptitude is the potential to develop the skills required for that particular career.  It can be checked out either by undergoing an aptitude test, or by evaluating your own strong points and comparing them to the skills required to be successful in any particular field.

Nothing comes out of being obstinate and adamant, on either side.  Parents may find that forcing a child into a particular career against his choice will lead to such a level of de-motivation that he stops performing, and loses his self-esteem.  Students may find that rebelling against their parents will deprive them of their support in the crucial years when they have to struggle and build up their life.

Keep in mind that there are multiple choices in each field today. Also, one can combine two different streams and make a career out of it. Try to look for such a combination if parent and child disagree. Some examples are: Engineering combined with design or graphics; Medicine combined with writing, documentation or publishing; Law combined with a management degree; Commerce degree followed by mass communication. The list is endless.

In this era of specialisation and competition, it helps to have dual qualifications.
In many instances I have seen the conflict between parent and child leading to a stand-off which results in desperate last minute decisions – often with disastrous results. Time is the essence. The earlier a decision is taken, the better it is likely to be.

If all attempts to come to a consensus fail, the issue is referred to a knowledgeable elder or a counsellor who can evaluate objectively and in a non-biased manner, and come out with a solution suitable to both. This third person should be knowledgeable, and not just a respected elder who is outdated or who has a bias towards particular fields because of his own experiences.  Also, the person should not be one who looks at the career in the past three decades of his working life, rather than the coming four decades of the working life of the student in question.

Careers that most of the children of today are likely to take up – have not even been invented yet. When the future is so bright, so challenging and exciting, let the minds of the children roam free and settle on something they are passionate about, and in which they can become stars of the future. Suggested steps for career selection:

*List out careers the student is eligible for based on his current qualifications

*Parents and child can both make their list of preferences, and combine them into one list

* Start a process of reverse elimination of those fields that are out of reach, difficult to get admission into, too expensive, etc.

*Make a final list in order of priority, and see if two or more can be reached by taking the same studies (e.g. a student is eligible for both engineering and medicine if he takes up PCMB in his +2; or, a person may take up Commerce if he is confused between business management and chartered accountancy, or even mass communication)

*Try for admission in the best possible college/institute since that plays a very important role in how high the candidate will go in his career

*Keep an alternative in mind in case the first choice does not materialise

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